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‘Game changing’ cancer drugs listed on the PBS


Paul Hayes


21/11/2019 11:34:17 AM

Thousands of Australians with non-small cell lung cancer and early-stage acute lymphoblastic leukaemia will have access to better treatment options.

Accessing PBS online
The PBS listings will come into effect from 1 December.

From 1 December, more than 2000 patients with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer will be able to access pembrolizumab (sold as Keytruda) as a first-line treatment in combination with chemotherapy.
 
The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) listing of the drug means ‘most patients will not have to fail treatment with chemotherapy before accessing this game-changing treatment’, according to Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt.
 
‘As a result of this listing, Australians with lung cancer will have the broadest access to [pembrolizumab] in the world,’ Minister Hunt said.
 
‘Patients may have otherwise paid up to $120,000 a year depending on their specific cancer sub-type.’
 
Pembrolizumab is an immunotherapy medicine that ‘supercharges’ the body’s immune system to detect and fight cancer cells.
 
The Government also announced the existing listing of leukaemia medicine blinatumomab (sold as Blincyto) will be extended from 1 December.
 
‘[Blinatumomab] will now be available for the treatment of patients in the early stage of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, but who have minimal residual disease [MRD],’ Minister Hunt said.
 
‘A patient has MRD if they respond well to initial chemotherapy, but a small number of cancer cells can still be detected.’
 
Up to 450 people in Australia are diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia each year.
 
‘Without PBS subsidy, approximately 86 patients would pay up to $150,000 for each course of [blinatumomab] treatment,’ Minister Hunt said.

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